Category Archives: health

Down at the Doctor

First – blood test at 11.40. I managed it just in time after doing a few errands round town.

Despite the experience of the last blood test, which made the nurse more nervous than I was, everything went well. I hardly felt the needle go in and next thing I knew we had a tube of blood. I’ve had no phone call this afternoon so I assume I’m within the correct range and will have at least another three weeks before the next test.

That is good.

Then, after a few more errands, some washing up and cooking a pan of carrot and ginger soup, it was time for my 4.30 doctor’s appointment.

It was the follow up to a letter from hospital about my heart scan. No problem, just a tweaking of tablets. Clearly it wasn’t cause for concern as the hospital had waited two months to send the letter.

I assume the delay is calculated to allow the Grim Reaper to balance supply and demand.

I took my list with me.

We did an Epworth Test to examine my propsensity for falling asleep in front of the TV. I was within the normal band and thus it’s another thing to put down to the aging process.

We will be moving on from there and looking at ways of stopping my nightly trips to the toilet. This will be after I have a month of increasing the dosage of heart pills so we’re only changing one thing at a time.

After five years of disturbed sleep another month shouldn’t harm me. The question is whether I am waking up and wanting the toilet, or wanting the toilet and waking up. There is a subtle difference.

The doctor thinks it may be prostate-related.

I’m hoping that something happens in the next few weeks that diverts her attention to a different conclusion.

If Julia, for instance, notes that I am waking myself by snoring we might still be able to blame sleep apnoea for me waking up. That would be a nuisance, but I would be able to keep my trousers on.

I also dispensed with the asthma test advice that was printed on my last prescription – seems it’s not meant for me.

Weight is holding steady. That’s sort of good news. But not good enough. More exercise, less food.

So, two visits and I’m pretty much in the clear, with no new problems for the moment. I am feeling quite relieved.

 

All Went Well

Well, that was easy.

I arrived in plenty of time, sat down, opened my book and was called through before I’d had time to read the first page.

Of course, they didn’t want me, they just wanted to move me to the next waiting area. This was crammed with men of a certain age, mostly with a slightly haunted air. This was due, I found out, to the next instruction.

“We’re going to do a flow test today, so I need to ask you to have five or six glasses of water.”

She pointed to the water fountain and left me to it. The slightly haunted air of my fellow drinkers was now explained. Take a man with a dodgy bladder, fill him with water, and it’s not exactly a recipe for comfort and jollity.

I was able to read plenty more of my book, though I wasn’t exactly able to concentrate as the water worked its way through.

Eventually, as I was beginning to feel a touch urgent, I was called through by the consultant.

All is good.

He turned out, despite his formidable qualifications and reputation, to be a warm and charming man with a sense of humour. This is not, as I have discovered over the years, always true of consultants.

He discharged me, told me to see the GP about the disturbed nights, thanked me for my patience and shook my hand.

I shook back then made off in search of a toilet. I may have avoided the flow test, but I still had six glasses of water to unload…

 

 

 

 

In Just Under an Hour

In just under an hour I will be in hospital being prodded and questioned.

I’ve run through it all in my head and hope I have enough answers ready to avoid them following up with more pills or tests. I already rattle when I walk too fast and am still having dreams of long corridors from my last three month session of intensive prodding.

Recently, I have started daydreaming about hospital food. I’m wondering if it may be a form of Stockholm Syndrome. I do hope not, because spending more time in hospital would definitely be the wrong treatment…

When I was in hospital twelve years ago the procedure which now takes a day and a half used to take three or four. It was much more restful and they used to take the catheter out before sending you home.

There are advantages to the new industrial system – probably more people seen, and definitely less chance of becoming ill from something you pick up in hospital.

There’s another thing I noticed – when I was in for three days I was glad to get out.When I was in for four days I was resentful at being sent home on Irish Stew day. I’d been looking forward to that stew.

Ah well, time to go.

Wish me luck.

 

A Low Blow from the NHS

The National Health Service is a fine thing, though far from perfect. When it started in 1948 it had a budget of £437 million (about £15 billion in 2017 spending power). In 2015-16 the budget was £116 billion.

The problem with the NHS, we are often told, is underfunding. Well tell that to Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo or Ethiopia – they all run countries on less than the NHS budget.

The NHS has so much money that it would rank 58th in the world in terms of GDP and could afford to buy an aircraft carrier (curremtly a very reasonable £6.2 billion, I’m told) to become a player in world politics.

If the NHS management were smart, and I confess my dealings with them have not persuaded me that this is the case, they could then threaten to leave the Union, like Scotland, and the Government would throw cash and jobs their way, just like it does with the Scots. That should solve the issue of funding.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, part of NHS funding in England is prescription charges. You pay £8.60 per prescription, so if you are on four types of pill you pay £34.40. If you want a pair of elastic stockings that’s £17.20, because each stocking counts as one prescription. I suppose amputees will see the sense in that one, but the rest of us feel the NHS is having a laugh. Sometimes the pharmacist will point out that they have the product on sale for far less than the prescription cost.

My annual prescriptions cost around £300. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the cost is £0. I will merely refer to this as an anomally, and pass over the whole painful subject.

There are several ways of paying less without moving house. One is to purchase a pre-payment certificate for £104 a year. I do this, as I feel that the £200 saving is better in my pocket than being squandered on wars and referendums.

Last night I went on-line to renew my certificate. I was part way through the process when a message came up on the screen –

Warning

The information submitted indicates that you are 59 years old. Please note that you will be eligible for free prescriptions from the age of 60.

Press continue to proceed with your application or cancel to stop.

 It’s a bit of a low blow, reminding me of my advancing age like that, but on the other hand I do like stuff for free.

 

 

Lazy Soup

I never did get to make that soup yesterday. I was diverted by the need to stack the bokashi bucket and clean forgot. Next thing I knew, I had a sandwich in one hand and… a sandwich in the other. It was organic brown bread so I feel reasonably virtuous. Please notice that I’ve avoided the “balanced diet” joke. Well, side-stepped it rather than actually avoided it I suppose.

I did get round to it today though, and it worked out well. It’s a nicely seasoned brownish soup, partly due to the seasoning, which changes the colour from orange.

It’s easy and almost free of effort, hence the title.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

Three bags of ready chopped Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash from TESCO. They are three for the price of two at the moment.

Half a pack of ready-chopped onions.

Three cloves of garlic. Chopped.

A piece of ginger about twice the size of the top of my thumb. Chopped.

Two organic vegetable stock cubes (they were on offer).

Two heaped teaspoons of cumin.

Water. How much water? Enough to cover and simmer. Maybe some to dilute.

Method

Soften the onions. I browned them by accident but it didn’t do any harm. Let#s face it, this isn’t Masterchef.

Throw in the rest of the stuff and add water.

Simmer for around 20 minutes.

Use stick blender to reduce to soup. Dilute to taste.

 

I meant to add a red chilli because I wanted to add some heat and some red flecks to the soup. Unfortunately I can’t find where Julia put the chillis when she stacked the shopping.

If you do it with chilli you can probably leave out the cumin, which will give you a much more orange soup, with more heat but less depth of flavour.

It’s so easy I should do it more often.

Normally I would chop my own veg, but a combination of knee and back pain means I can’t stand and cook for too long, At the moment quick is good, even if it does cost more.

Confusion, Rugby and Russia

Took Julia to work this morning, tried to get the mowers started, was unsuccessful. That wasn’t the best start. Sadly, with this being a project run on a shoestring they rely on gifts, and nobody gives a good mower away.

Went to supermarket for cash, walked the length of the car park (that’s my “exercise” for the day) and, as I got to the machine, remembered my wallet was still at home. So I went home, scraped all my change together and rang a taxi.

As I walked into the hospital it suddenly struck me I didn’t have my phone with me.  (This was solved when the lady at reception very kindly rang for a taxi at the end of my blood test).

Short wait, blood rest and good news at last. Well, mixed news, to be accurate. They have interfered with the natural functioning of my body to the extent that my blood now clots so slowly that I can no longer play rugby as the bruising could be fatal, and, like the Romanovs, I am likely to make a bad ruler of Russia. They achieve this by making you eat rat poison.

As I haven’t played rugby for years, and don’t like the idea of Russian winters this isn’t too bad.

The good news is that I can now go to the GP surgery for testing instead of the hospital, will eventually move to four tests a year instead of three a week, and I’m officially less likely to have a stroke.

 

On balance I’m prepared to give up rugby and Russia to lead a healthier life.

Miracles do happen

Yesterday’s visit to the Bee-eaters was about as much walking as I wanted to do, but there was still half a day to fill and it seemed a shame not to use it. I won’t say too much now, as it will be reported in a later post, but I ended up walking so far that I could barely make it back to the car.

It doesn’t sound much, a total of around 2,000 yards, but compared to recent days when even 20 yards were a challenge, it’s a major achievement.

I was expecting to be crippled this morning. I was certainly aching last night. Starting from the top – my shoulders ached from using the stick so much, my back ached, my right hip ached (it’s on my problem side), my right knee ached (and wouldn’t bend or take my weight) and my feet ached. In some cases “ached” is an understatement, but you know me, I do hate to complain.

After talking to a lady at Bempton Cliffs (we spent a few minutes sitting and talking about bad knees) I have started taking two turmeric capsules a day. Result – almost no pain at all in my arthritic feet and a general reduction in aches and pains.

Turmeric is well known as an anti-inflammatory and in my case seems to work.

In addition, I did have a couple of ibuprofen after finishing the walk yesterday, and a couple of painkillers before going to bed.

This morning, I felt like I could leap out of bed and run round like a youngster once more. I managed to resist, but I could have done if I was a leaping and running sort of person.

I can’t put it all down to the turmeric, but it has certainly helped. Now all I need to do is talk to the doctor and anticoagulant clinic about it. I’m sure they won’t like it.

It’s frustrating that after months of taking things easy the solution was to eat curry powder and walk till it hurt.

No photos with this one – pictures of my feet tend not to attract readers. 🙂